Navigating Texas Beer Liquor Laws: Your Comprehensive Guide to State Regulations

Confused about Texas beer and liquor regulations? This guide provides a lucid understanding of the minimum age for alcohol consumption, permissible times for sales, the involvement of the TABC in enforcement, and how municipal rules can impact your encounter with alcoholic beverages. Keep yourself educated to steer clear of legal snags while traversing through the Texan rules governing liquor.

Key Takeaways


  • Texas alcohol laws are complex and allow for local autonomy, with varying ordinances across counties, cities, or precincts, including hours and types of sales permitted.

  • The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is the authoritative body managing alcohol regulation, including licensing, enforcement, and taxation, collecting over $220 million annually from licensed businesses.

  • Recent legislative changes like House Bill 1024 have made alcohol-to-go and delivery options permanent, reflecting modern consumer needs and marking a shift in the state’s historically restrictive alcohol regulations.

Understanding Texas Alcohol Laws

Texas alcohol laws

The intricate web of Texas alcohol laws is a result of its extensive history, numerous regulatory layers, and the vastness and complexity inherent in the state’s alcoholic beverage industry. For residents, tourists, and entrepreneurs alike within Texas to avoid legal issues tied to alcohol consumption or sales, understanding these regulations is essential.

These regulations are made even more unique by the considerable independence that local governments possess regarding their implementation. Indeed! In Texas’s towns and cities (extending through counties down to precincts), local authorities can enforce customized ordinances governing alcoholic beverage sales with latitude for deviations as they determine appropriate. This means you might find differing rules about alcohol depending on your specific location within the state.

Legal Drinking Age in Texas

Digging deeper into the regulations, it’s important to note that under Texas law, while the legal age for consuming alcohol is firmly established at 21 years of age, there exists a noteworthy exception. This provision allows a parent or legal guardian to buy alcohol for their offspring with the stipulation that consumption takes place in their presence. Thus, notwithstanding the standard minimum drinking age requirement of 21, this rule can be relaxed when parental supervision is involved.

Alcohol Sales Hours

When considering the purchase of alcohol in Texas, it’s important to be mindful of when sales are allowed. Establishments such as bars and restaurants are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages from 7 a.m. until midnight on weekdays—Monday through Friday—with an extension up to 1 a.m. on Saturday nights into Sunday mornings, while Sunday sales commence at noon and continue until midnight. These venues can prolong their alcohol service up until 2 a.m., provided they possess the appropriate Late Hours Permit.

For grocery stores or equivalent establishments offering alcohol for off-premise consumption, there is adherence to comparable timeframes for selling drinks. This comes with limitations regarding wines with over 17% alcohol by volume. Also notable is that event spaces hosting live performances on Sundays may initiate their sale of alcoholic products starting at 10 in the morning even without accompanying food service, under certain conditions.

Beer, Wine, and Liquor: What’s the Difference?

In Texas, the assortment of alcoholic beverages available for purchase includes beer and wine. Beer typically contains an alcohol volume between 4% to 7% ABV. Some craft beer may exceed this range. In contrast, wines differ in their alcohol content with white varieties Around 10% ABV while reds tend to be stronger at about 12-15% ABV and can reach up to a potent 16-18%.

Distilled spirits are known for having the highest levels of alcohol among such drinks with standard proofs close to an intimidating 40% ABV. Certain robust cask strength whiskies might even scale heights of approximately 55-60%. Under Texas law’s unique categorization system, both beer and ale fall under the ‘malt beverage’ umbrella as long as they possess an abv exceeding half a percent (0.5%). This definition came into effect after eliminating earlier legal distinctions between these two types of beer within the state in recent years since then-current year -2021-.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC)

TABC regulations

Guiding you through the complex network of Texas alcohol laws and provisions found within the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is the role of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). Since its inception in 1935, this state agency has been entrusted with overseeing every aspect of the alcoholic beverage sector. The TABC’s responsibilities include regulating, inspecting, and taxing all phases from production to consumption of alcoholic beverages while ensuring compliance with quality standards as well as label and container size regulations.

In exercising its regulatory duties, it falls upon TABC to issue or deny licenses and permits. They have authority to suspend or revoke these documents if necessary. Oversight extends to monitoring industry operations with capabilities that include confiscating unauthorized alcoholic beverages and bringing legal action against those infringing on established statutes. With Austin as their home base, each year sees them amass upwards of $220 million from excise taxes on imports at over 54 thousand licensed establishments across the state.

TABC Licensing

If you’re contemplating establishing a business within the alcoholic beverages market, it is essential to understand the licensing procedures of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). The TABC issues various licenses and permits needed for different segments of the alcohol industry which cover:

  • Manufacturing

  • Distribution

  • Retail

  • Special event operations

For submitting applications for these permits or licenses, one can use either the Alcohol Industry Management System (AIMS) offered by TABC or opt for paper applications. It should be noted that choosing to apply through paper forms may result in longer processing times.

A variety of permits are available from TABC, such as a beer license. Each designed with particular privileges and limitations associated with manufacturing, marketing, and distributing alcoholic beverages. For instance, those who possess specific types of authorizations like a Mixed Beverage Permit (MB) or Wine and Malt Beverage Retailer’s Permit (BG) have permissions engaged around sales including options like pickup service delivery, and directly shipping under defined circumstances.

TABC Enforcement

Adhering to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s (TABC) regulatory actions is just as crucial as securing a license in the first place. In Texas, law enforcement officers are endowed with the power to carry out inspections on any property that holds a license for alcohol sales at their discretion, without needing a search warrant. It is incumbent upon TABC agents to conduct regular checks of establishments such as bars and restaurants. It is mandatory for businesses possessing various licenses and permits related to alcohol sales to submit an annual self-evaluation concerning compliance.

In anticipation of this required reporting process, businesses should verify they have all necessary signage visiblely displayed and appoint someone who oversees compliance duties. This individual must be registered within the AIMS system under ‘Prime’ status.

Buying Alcohol in Texas: Where and When

Exploring the nuances of buying alcohol in Texas reveals:

  • From Monday to Saturday, you can purchase alcohol beginning at 7 a.m.

  • On Sundays, the sale of alcohol is permitted starting from 10 a.m.

  • Typically, sales end at midnight on Sunday through Friday nights

  • But on Saturdays, purchasers have until 1 a.m. to buy their drinks.

Take note that these hours might differ depending upon the retailer category involved.

When it comes to grocery and convenience stores specifically, there are distinct limitations for when they can sell alcoholic beverages.

  • During weekdays (Monday-Friday), they may sell from 7 a.m. up till midnight

  • Come Saturday morning at 7 a.m., this extends past midnight and all the way into Sunday morning until 1 a.m.

  • Then on Sunday mornings themselves, transactions cannot start before hitting that precise mark: not earlier than ten o’clock. Plus there’s an extra caveat – wines over 17% in strength face additional time restrictions.

Alcohol purchase in Texas

Grocery Stores and Convenience Stores

Licensed grocery and convenience stores are permitted to offer wine with an alcohol content of up to 14% during normal hours for selling alcohol. These establishments can also provide wines exceeding 14% alcohol by volume within designated times. The sale of alcoholic beverages at these retail locations is authorized from Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and midnight, on Saturday from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m., and on Sundays starting at 10 a.m. all the way through to midnight.

Liquor Stores

In Texas, package stores, commonly known as liquor stores, adhere to specific operational hours. From Monday to Saturday, they are open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., but according to state law in Texas, these establishments must be closed on Sundays. They are mandated to remain closed on public holidays like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If any of these holidays occur on a Sunday, then the liquor store is required by law to close not only on that day but also the following Monday.

Serving Alcohol in Texas: Bars, Restaurants, and Hotels

To legally serve alcoholic beverages in the state of Texas, whether within a hotel bar or any other venue such as a restaurant or standard bar, compliance with specific licensing requirements is essential. Licenses vary and dictate service hours. Most establishments adhere to common serving times unless they possess a ‘late hours’ permit allowing them to extend alcohol service up until 2 a.m. Hotel bars have the unique ability to offer alcohol around the clock exclusively for their registered guests.

It’s important to note that if an establishment decides to provide complimentary alcoholic beverages, it must do so equitably among all adult patrons in order not be seen as engaging in sales without proper licensing. Hotel bars are no exception when it comes to enforcing laws against public intoxication—they too hold the responsibility of mitigating this risk and individuals found publicly intoxicated can receive penalties under Class C misdemeanor charges should their behavior become hazardous.

woman, model, cocktail

Alcohol To-Go and Delivery Laws in Texas

The landscape of Texas alcohol laws has adapted to the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic. House Bill 1024, enacted in April 2021, transitioned temporary provisions designed to aid businesses into lasting regulations that permit licensed and permitted establishments to extend pickup and delivery services for alcoholic beverages.

Under this legislation, there are certain parameters these businesses must follow: deliveries need to be within the county where the retailer is located or up to a two-mile radius if crossing into another county. On Sundays before 10 a.m., such orders encompassing mixed drinks as well as wine, beer, and malt beverages are not allowed. These stipulations ensure compliance with existing frameworks governing how liquor can be sold by retailers.

With HB 1024 now in effect permanently embedding alcohol-to-go sales within its jurisprudence.Texas makes notable strides away from formerly stringent alcohol policies—an indication that state lawmakers recognize both shifts in consumer preferences and industry demands.

Texas Drunk Driving and Public Intoxication Laws

 It’s essential to drink responsibly. In Texas, the legal definition of intoxication includes not being able to use one’s mental or physical faculties normally due to substances like alcohol, or having an alcohol concentration level at 0.08% or above. As an implied consent state, Texas requires that drivers automatically agree to undergo tests for alcohol as per local law enforcement.

In Texas, the consequences for driving under the influence are severe and escalate with each repeat offense.

  • For a first-time offender: penalties can reach up to $2,000 in fines plus incarceration.

  • A second violation may lead to fines as high as $4,000 alongside imprisonment.

  • A third incident incurs up-to-tens-of-thousands in dollars of fines and considerable time behind bars.

There are additional financial penalties imposed by the state along with specific charges such as operating a vehicle while intoxicated (DWI) when carrying a child passenger. These significantly increase both monetary costs and judicial repercussions.

Texas takes public intoxication seriously too. It is considered a serious transgression when someone is so drunk in public that they become a danger either themselves or others around them – this behavior qualifies legally as a Class C misdemeanor.

County-Specific Regulations: Dry, Wet, and Partially Wet Counties

In Texas, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated on a county level with classifications that include:

  • Dry counties, where alcohol sales are entirely prohibited.

  • Wet counties, which allow for the unrestricted sale of alcohol.

  • Partially wet (or moist) counties, offering limited approval for selling certain kinds of alcoholic beverages or restricting sales to specific areas.

Counties in Texas have the autonomy through local-option elections to decide their status concerning what types and forms of alcoholic beverage commerce they permit. This can result in an uneven landscape across regions such as having cities where alcohol is legal within otherwise dry counties.

The state has seen evolving patterns regarding these designations over time—more notably moving away from being dry—with numerous changes marked by transitions like some territories going from partially wet statuses to fully permitting all categories of liquor transactions. These rulings impact not just regional economies, but cultural practices too. It’s not unusual to find individuals from non-selling (dry) locations venturing into places with fewer restrictions on access to purchase drinks. Presently, there are only five totally prohibitionist (completely dry) counties throughout all of Texas.

Blue Laws and Their Impact on Texas Alcohol Laws

The origin of Texas alcohol laws dates back to post-Civil War blue laws, which were implemented with the intent to make Sunday a day dedicated to rest and worship. These laws limited activities like working, consuming alcohol, and gambling. In 1863, the initial implementation of a blue law in Texas brought forth seemingly random prohibitions such as forbidding sales of specific items on Sundays. The persistence of these regulations has been fueled by both religious beliefs and concerns from retailers about economic implications, making their removal challenging through legislative means or court rulings.

Today’s legal landscape still reflects the legacy left by these historical mandates. Liquor stores are required to shut their doors on Sundays due partly to blue laws that also keep car dealerships closed on this day. Despite ongoing efforts made within legislature circles seeking either modification or complete elimination of remaining archaic rules pertaining specifically to sale & consumption times for alcoholic beverages – a clear struggle exists trying balance entrenched socio-cultural norms against pressing contemporary commercial interests when dealing with such regulatory relics surrounding spirits trade practices.

TABC-Approved Training for Sellers and Servers

In order to bolster the regulatory system, it’s encouraged by the TABC that personnel at venues which vend or dispense alcoholic beverages undergo training. This endorsed education not only shields employers from punitive measures by the TABC in case of unlawful alcohol sales or service by staff, but can also lead to lower costs for liability insurance. The curriculum involves an exploration of Texas state laws pertaining to the trade of alcoholic drinks and imparts strategies for effectively intervening to prevent transactions involving underage individuals or those who are visibly inebriated. This training is designed to be completed within a two-hour timeframe.

Online courses approved by the TABC offer certification, and thanks to Safe Harbor legislation, business owners gain immunity from specific legal responsibilities when they exclusively employ workers with TABC certifications.


Navigating Texas alcohol laws can indeed feel like a journey through a labyrinth. From the age-old blue laws to the modern alcohol-to-go regulations, the Lone Star State’s regulations on alcoholic beverages are complex and dynamic. Whether you’re a consumer, a business owner, or just a curious reader, understanding these laws is key to making informed decisions and staying on the right side of the law. As the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

What time can you buy beer and liquor in Texas?

In Texas, grocery and convenience stores have the authorization to sell beer and wine starting at 7 a.m. up until midnight from Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays beginning at 7 a.m., continuing until 1 a.m. early Sunday morning.

As for liquor stores, they are permitted to conduct sales of liquor between the hours of 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., spanning from Monday all through Saturday.

What are the new alcohol laws in Texas 2023?

As of 2023, Texas has amended its sales regulations for beer and wine to permit stores to initiate sales at 10 am on Sundays, thus aligning with the daily schedule for the rest of the week and abandoning the previous noon start time.

What is the legal drinking age in Texas?

In Texas, individuals must be 21 years of age to legally consume alcohol. A child may have alcohol bought for them by their parent or legal guardian and partake in its consumption under their supervision.

What is the difference between beer, wine, and liquor?

In terms of alcohol content, beer typically contains 4-7% ABV, while white wines often have around 10% ABV and red wines fall between a slightly higher range of 12-15% ABV. Liquors stand out with an approximate alcohol content of about 40% ABV.

What are dry, wet, and partially wet counties?

In Texas, dry counties ban all sales of alcohol, while wet counties authorize them. Meanwhile, partially wet counties have regulations permitting the sale of specific kinds of alcoholic beverages or allow alcohol sales only in certain designated areas.